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Why you should listen to Heavy Metal

Updated on March 31, 2016

When you hear the term “Heavy Metal”, what comes up in your mind? Satanism? Loud noise? Bad taste in music? If you like others are not open to the idea of listening to Heavy Metal, this article will attempt to inspire you to give it a try. No, i'm not going to have you pay for metal concerts and buy albums. The challenge i will give is far more simple: Learn a bit about it and then make your decision.

Think of a certain type of food or activity that you were afraid of trying at 1st but after you persistently kept trying bit by bit, you finally love it. Heavy Metal like any other genre of music requires this persistence and open-mindedness to fully love it. I sure didn't start off listening to the most extreme metal genres out there, but eventually i did just by picking out bands i'm comfortable with.

Bear with me, we're not there yet. We'll first examine several things you might have heard about Heavy Metal.

Heavy Metal isn't what you think it is

Common myths of heavy metal include the following:

“Heavy metal bands are full of talent-less guys making random noise. It takes no skill for the vocalist to scream at the top of his lungs.”

Nothing could be further from the Truth. For example, It might seem at first glance like metal vocalists are screaming at their top of lungs and destroying their vocal chords but they're not. They apply intermediate level basic singing in addition to metal vocals. They force the air to come out using their chest, diaphragm, jaws, tongue, mouth, and throat to produce a hoarse tone giving it the illusion that they're screaming.

“Heavy metal bands are Satanic”

Heavy metal bands make up various faiths like Christianity, Wicca, Judaism, Buddhism, Atheism, and more. Satanism is in the minority. Many people liken the vocalist's guttural screams to demons but how do they know what actual demons sound like? It's based on an irrational fear on the unknown. Very few Metal musicians are satanists.

An example of a deathcore band.
An example of a deathcore band.

Heavy Metal is a diversely complex music genre

Heavy Metal has various sub-genres each unique in their own respect such as metal-core, death-core, hard-core, death metal, death-grind, grind-core, doom metal, black metal, the list goes on. Here are just some of the metal sub-genres.

Metalcore - A fushion of hardcore punk and extreme metal. Clean metal vocals are used and occasionally death metal growls. The instruments are characterized by heavy guitar riffs, double bass drumming, and breakdowns. Drop tuning is also used usually between drop D and B. Drummers use double bass techniques in addition to general drumming styles. Metalcore emerged from heavy metal and hardcore punk subcultures.

Deathcore - An extreme metal fusion of death metal and metalcore. It uses death metal riffs, blast beats, and metalcore breakdowns. Deathcore combines blast beats, down-tuned guitars, tremolo picking, and growled vocals. Low growls and shrieked screams are usually used along with pig squeals.

Death metal - Extreme sub-genre of heavy metal employing heavily distorted and low tuned guitars played with techniques such as palm muting or guitar picking. Death metal vocals consist of deep growling, screams, grunts, shrieks, and so forth. The drumming relies on double kicking and blast beats with minor keys or atonality, abrupt tempo, key and time signature changes and chromatic chord progressions. Guitar riffs are melodic but in lower tuning for a dark effects.


Here are just several characteristics of heavy metal.

Metal vocals:

Screaming in heavy metal is an extended vocal technique accompanying singing. Metal vocals come in varying degrees of intensity, pitches, and tonality.

Blast-beats:

Blast beats are a type of drum beats originating in Death Metal and often used in extreme metal genres. Blast beats as defined by Adam MacGregor, they are "the blast-beat generally comprises a repeated, sixteenth-note figure played at a very fast tempo, and divided uniformly among the bass drum, snare, and ride, crash, or hi-hat cymbal." Traditionally, blast beats are played as an alternating single stroke roll between a kick and snare drum. They are usually counted as 32nd or 16th notes at high tempos. There are variations of blast beats as opposed to just one.

Double bass drumming:

Two bass drums and pedals are usually used. An example of this can be seen in the video.

Guitar riffs:

The main groove of a heavy metal song consists of short 2-3 note rhythmic figures. They are usually performed by using a palm-muted technique on the guitar to create staccato. Phrases are usually performed in odd rhythms. Heavy metal often uses longer figures like whole note or dotted quarter note length chords in slow tempo power ballads.

Power chords:

In Heavy Metal, power chords involve a main interval through an octave doubling the root. When power chords are played on the lower strings at high volumes and with distortion followed by low frequency sounds adding weight to the sound. Power chords also involve other intervals. Heavy metal riffs are created with 3 main harmonic traits: Model scale, tritone, chromatic progressions, and pedal points. Pedal points are typically in the bass range and complicated.

Heavy Metal builds an environment for the darker side of life

Heavy metal is a genre exploring the negative sides of life very few want to see. It's not a “safe” environment because it has mature themes not found in any other genre. Heavy Metal focuses on social problems such as bullying, political corruption, death, torture, animal cruelty, suicide, disease, etc. Young adults and people of all ages looking for solutions on dealing with the cruelty of life can turn to heavy metal for guidance.

Heavy Metal doesn't always give a morbid expression of life. Sometimes it bears a positive message in spite of suffering. Other times, heavy metals speak of philosophy and mythology.

Try it out for yourself. I recommend listening to these bands:

Korn - Heavy metal band combining rap, funk, grunge, industrial, alternative, groove metal, and other influences. Many of their music videos also resemble that of the Matrix with special almost psychedelic visual effects.

Slipknot - A heavy metal band also combining several sub-genres such as Nu-metal and alternative metal. Very aggressive in nature with emotionally charged lyrics and intense instrumentation.

Gojira - A heavy metal band in France blending technical Death Metal, thrash, groove, and progressive metal. Gojira is melodic in their guitar riffs along with using unusual song structures and clean aggressive vocals. Their lyrics are often very philosophical, mythical, and thought provoking.

In conclusion, i hope that this article has changed your perspective on the heavy metal genre. If you are still unsure as to whether or not you ought to listen to heavy metal, i highly suggest doing your own research. Heavy Metal is ultimately it's own unique and universally diverse genre.

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